The biggest game of college football Saturday on this Thanksgiving weekend is the renewal of the Alabama-Auburn rivalry, with all its national title implications. The Tide-Tigers merited its own separate preview, but isn’t the only game with high stakes. Let’s take a look at rest of the college football Week 14 TV schedule…
Ohio State-Michigan (Noon, ABC)
Florida State-Florida (Noon, ESPN)
Duke-North Carolina (Noon, ESPN2)
Comment: Ohio State and Florida State might be the two power conference teams outside Alabama that are undefeated, and their rivalry games might be rich in tradition. But this year, the game I want to see is Duke-North Carolina.
The Dookies can clinch the ACC Coastal with a win, whereas a loss opens the door to any one of three teams. North Carolina isn’t one of those teams, but the Tar Heels might be playing the best football of anyone in the Coastal. In spite of losing quarterback Bryn Renner in early November, Carolina installed a versatile quarterback in Marquise Williams and has just kept churning out wins. UNC has won five straight and gotten bowl-eligible.
There are some injury concerns in Chapel Hill, with tight end Eric Ebron, the team’s top target, banged up, but I would expect Ebron to play. And as great of a year as Duke has enjoyed–in a lot of ways, the Blue Devils are the poor man’s version of Auburn when it comes to a magic ride–I don’t see them getting out of Chapel Hill with a win. Oddsmakers agree, having made North Carolina a six-point favorite.
If either Ohio State or Florida State actually lose, then obviously their games will be the biggest in the time slot. But the Buckeyes are a (-16.5) favorite, with the Seminoles giving nearly four touchdowns to the Florida team that lost to Georgia Southern.
The more interesting question is whether Florida coach Wil Muschamp can survive a debacle on Saturday. And though it doesn’t have the same immediate impact, Michigan coach Brady Hoke is starting to hear the wolves howl–enough so that he got the dreaded vote of confidence from the AD earlier this week.
Alabama-Auburn (3:30 PM ET, CBS)
Georgia-Georgia Tech (3:30 PM ET, ABC)
Baylor-TCU (3:30 PM ET, ESPN2)
Penn State-Wisconsin (3:30 PM ET, ESPN)
Virginia Tech-Virginia (3:30 PM ET, ESPNU)
Comment: If the ‘Bama-Auburn game gets out of hand, or for some reason doesn’t do anything for you there are good options in this time slot. Wisconsin and Baylor both need wins to keep themselves in position for BCS at-large consideration. And if North Carolina beats Duke, that puts Virginia Tech first in line to claim the ACC Coastal (Miami is second in line, and the Hurricanes play Friday at Pitt).
The Georgia-Georgia Tech game wasn’t going to have national consequence in any case, and now it has kind of a sad overtone, as Bulldog quarterback Aaron Murray has torn his ACL and is done for the year.
Clemson-South Carolina (7 PM ET, ESPN2)
Notre Dame-Stanford (7 PM ET, Fox)
Texas A&M-Missouri (7:45 PM ET, ESPN2)
UCLA-USC (8 PM ET, ABC)
Comment: Two more games with big implications for the major bowls and possibly the national championship. Missouri is a (-4) favorite at home over Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M, and the Tigers are playing for a spot in the SEC Championship Game and I personally believe they should control their national championship destiny in that event. Whether enough voters agree remains to be seen.
If Mizzou comes up short, then South Carolina wins the SEC East. In either case, both South Carolina and Clemson are playing for consideration as a BCS at-large team. You have to think Clemson can seal an Orange Bowl slot (presuming Florida State goes to the national championship game) with a win here, and that the Tigers at least remain in the conversation with a competitive road loss. What’s competitive? Oddsmakers favor South Carolina at (-4.5).
The Notre Dame-Stanford game is glitter signifying nothing, and the USC-UCLA game is pretty close to that. Although the Trojans’ interim coach, Ed Orgeron could wrap up the job permanently with a win. It’s also possible that this game could have significant impact up and down the Pac-12 bowl ladder. You could see the winner going to the Alamo (where the opponent might be Oklahoma or Texas), and the loser slipping at least to the Las Vegas Bowl (where the opponent could be someone like Utah State).
New Mexico-Boise State (10:15 PM ET, ESPN2)
It’s possible Boise could win their division in the Mountain West and a crack at Fresno State in next week’s league championship game. The Broncos will know by the time they take the field. Utah State hosts Wyoming for a 2 PM ET kickoff and if the Aggies lose, the door opens for Boise.